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Reddit just passed Facebook as #3 most popular website in US (alexa.com)
1361 points by Mahn on May 30, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 584 comments

The biggest value gain from Reddit, to me, is the ability to centralize effectively around different hobbies and activities. In the past, if you wanted to find an online community for a movie or a game, you had to find a forum for that community. Finding forums that are well managed and capture a good segment of the community is hard -- and Reddit just becomes a default place to look now.

Let's say a new TV show starts airing, and you really like it and want to discuss it more. You can probably bet there's a subreddit for it, and in that community, a ton of people interested in it. You can bet there are threads for discussing it in other parts of Reddit too. Worst case, you can make one yourself.

This is something that everyone has in common. Everyone has a community they want to "be apart of" and Reddit lets you express yourself to those communities without having an identity tied to that community. There are groups on Facebook, but it's so tied to you that it's hard to just be a part of a community. On Twitter, people tend to congregate around others in their interest domain, but by default, all posts go everywhere. Someone into a show on Twitter is going to dilute their feed and have a similarly diluted feed if they discuss it. In contrast, a subreddit is a concentrated mass of people around a topic.

I don't really get much value outside of this centralization. The default subreddits are too general for my taste, so I don't subscribe to many. But for the 80-90 different topics and communities I like to see, it's great.

I also appreciate the open nature of Reddit. No account is required if you just want to read, and you don't need to be first "approved" to most subreddits to be able to contribute. No "real-name" policies that often do more harm than good either.

While Facebook by default erects walls around content, Reddit by default promotes the free sharing and equal access to information, which resonates much more with the original promise and mission of the internet.

It's encouraging to see Reddit overtaking Facebook in popularity at a time when the freedoms of the internet are often under attack. Yes, Reddit has its flaws, but in the end, it is one of the best defenses that we have.

They still allow anonymous sign-up without an email address, but I've noticed a few dark UI patterns hiding that feature with recent redesigns. I delete and create accounts all the time to improve anonymity and prevent karma-lust. A few months ago I almost swore off Reddit because it seemed not providing an email was no longer an option during sign up. Now you just have to hit "Next" with an empty email field, it used to be a discrete option. This leads me to believe they don't like it, and it might not stand forever. Sure, I could always just use a fake email but, because I didn't have to, and the fact they specifically told me I didn't have to, I knew they respected my choice to be responsible for remembering/protecting my own password and didn't want to scare me into giving up my email address using "account recovery" FUD. That respect seems to be slipping away.

> didn't want to scare me into giving up my email address using "account recovery" FUD

It's not FUD. I run a small website (about 10k daily visits) where you can log in and play some games and don't have the "reset password via e-mail" mechanism. You won't believe the amount of "I forgot my password, please reset it" requests I get from people.

Majority of people give more value to being allowed to be lazy and forgetful than you having their e-mail address on record.

I linked an email with my Reddit account long before it became recommended. Years later, I deleted that gmail account. Even more years after that, Reddit decided (automated) to lock my account until I reset my password for no discernible reason, the only option being via email. It took two weeks with support, across 3 different mediums of communication, to get it reset to a new email account.

I guess what I’m saying is that there is an internal motivation at play to get people to register their email accounts at Reddit, and it goes far beyond reducing customer support time because at present, they are going the opposite way. In fact, had I never registered an email, their automated account locking nonsense would never have triggered, and had I lost my password, their official policy is not to help at all.

I never considered what they'd do in the event of a forced password reset after a breach. Not a problem for my use case given I consider them throwaway accounts anyway. Maybe sites should have accounts specifically designed as throw aways. No visible karma, no email, clear indication that you can't recover if you forget password, if there is a breach, your account is deleted immediatley.

Listen up, I get your use case, but comparing it to Reddit is disingenuous, obviously they're not pushing to enter your email for being able to help you out of the good of their hearts.

Maybe your site does, but Reddit is a huge data mining company just like the other big players on the Internet. That is their motivation. Like Caprinicus' story demonstrates, if the situation were reversed, suddenly it takes weeks to provide customer support. That clearly shows the email isn't about being user friendly, they want to grab it just because they want to lock on to you and let themselves drift away from the anonymous registration they so proudly offered one day.

There's not a lot of goodwill left for this behaviour on the Internet.

I also hate being encouraged to enter my email, because I think they want to connect me up via other places I use that email. But I have various ways that I usually use to create a new email for every website, so they can't track me. I have to do a tiny amount of work to manage this but it is not so hard.

I guess other people aren't aware of how to do this or its too much work. Having an email does help the 'reset automatically' the account, without human intervention (when you still have the email).

On the email issue, I once talked to Steve (back when he was still the primary developer) about the issue, and he seemed genuinely sad about people signing up without emails mostly because people would forget their password and then couldn't log back in, and not for any nefarious purpose.

Of course, now that reddit is bigger than Jesus, there probably are nefarious privacy-destroying forces at work, but even more than a decade ago, there were totally innocent reasons for reddit to want an email address when you signed up. I think it says something good that you can still create an account without one (I require a valid non-temporary email on all of my own sites, mostly for spam reduction, even though I very much value/respect privacy and never sell any info we collect on our sites).

I (try to) block all throwaway mail providers, but give users the possibility to delete the mail after confirming the account. Then I keep a salted hash of the mail address for 6 month to deny another sign up. Only reason being spam protection.

I love places that don't block throwaway mail providers, cause I really don't want to enter a real email address at every random site. But if I had a site that had a lot of users, I'd probably want that because it would automate many account maintenance issues. I have started thinking my main privacy issue is the phone company tracking my location all the time and then selling it to anybody in the world, and me not being able to do anything to block that is the real issue (short of getting rid of my phone).

Isn’t the flip side to that Cambridge analytica? A bunch of anon accounts devoted to pushing an agenda? Maybe not. It sure seems like a knife edge to balance on.

I agree with you, I like the ability to create random one shot accounts to comment on something, but that’s exploitable in weird ways.

It's funny that was a Facebook scandal, while Reddit has movements like hail corporate trying to self-police dishonesty and manipulative behavior.

It seems like anonymity should be more of a driving force, but seeing both good and bad social media sites with each model, I'm no longer sure anonymity either preserves or inhibits culture... it might just be orthogonal.

> Reddit has movements like hail corporate trying to self-police dishonesty and manipulative behavior.

Self-policing can also be manipulated. You cannot rely on user-intent alone, you need some structural protection against these kinds of things. Although I don't know what the best kind is.

I didn't mean to imply hail corporate completely fixed anything, at its worst it's unsubstantiated allegations.

Just pointing out that true names didn't inoculate Facebook, which doesn't even get as far as that problematic response.

That's why I said anonymity is orthogonal--that was my main point.

For example, anonymity is easier on HN, and I prefer our comments to FB. On the other hand, I'm not typing this on 4chan. There are dozens of other examples on the spectrum. Anonymity just doesn't seem like the determining factor for culture everyone makes it out to be. Maybe it has some impact, but it seems washed out by the typical culture of the group, driven by that group's interests, style, and tolerance of (or preference for) obnoxiousness.

I think the mistake a lot of people make is mixing up anonymity with a lack of persistence. You may be anonymous, but you still have a persistent handle (unless the situation calls for it). That persistence is also "rewarded" with upvotes (or downvotes), which on HN even have some consequences.

It's not clear to me why structural protection would be better than self-policing, given that both can fairly trivially be manipulated by a wallet the size of a corporation.

Nobody said it was better. You need both. Ideally, they complement each other in a bigger-than-the-sum-of-its-parts manner that is better than using either one alone.

Tangential example of technology/community interaction: Clay Shirky's "A Group Is It's Own Worst Enemy" is a great essay on how self-policing can backfire even without external influences[0]. The overall conclusion being that the technological framework surrounding the community needs to provide the means for it to support itself not only against internal influences, but also to prevent it from harming itself.

On reddit you can see in practice how the many different subcommunities apply this self-policing in practice, and what kind of effects it has. From the echo chambers of the more extremist ones (won't name any examples to avoid provoking anyone), to examples of subreddits dying due to sloppy moderation not holding back meme-ification and shitposting (same), to communities with very clear goals that are achieved through iron-fisted moderation (usually knowledge-oriented communities like /r/AskHistorians).

[0] http://shirky.com/writings/group_enemy.html

+1 for karma lust

I go to Reddit and HN for technical topics I have an interest in. Mostly Machine Learning on Reddit.

For more political and personal topics, Facebook is far better. Mostly because there are far more Facebook groups than there are subreddits, so in a controversial topic you tend to get vicious, abusive individuals taking control of a given category on Reddit. Because there are a lot of these folks out there and there's no objective way to remove them. On Facebook, you can create a group on topic X, run it sanely and gradually get credibility and get people migrating from the less-sane groups. If there's a way to do this on reddit once some dubious character has claimed a given topic, I'd like to known.

And for really small groups, Dischord seems best.

> If there's a way to do this on reddit once some dubious character has claimed a given topic, I'd like to known.

There is nothing preventing multiple subreddits dedicated to similar or identical things. If you feel abusive people are taking control, chances are others do too. So the best course of action would be to start another subreddit dedicated to the same thing. You and others who feel this way can build a better, less abusive, less controlled environment and people who prefer that environment will move over in time.

Edit: Also if you install the right moderators for the environment you want to create it can ensure the abusive individuals can't take control of your subreddit.

I had to stop going to any thing political related on reddit, between russian trolls and hyper-liberals downvoting reasonable opinions it got to be to much.

I installed the Reddit Enhancement Suite plugin to hide /r/politics and /r/the_donald from my home page. If I do read something political on there its from /r/NeutralPolitics which requires anything you post to be cited with evidence.

For everything else reddit is great. I don't even use Facebook anymore because it became too political on there. If I want politics I'll watch PBS News Hour or go to a news site.

Why are they showing up on your home page at all? Are you subbed to them?

they're most likely in /r/all. Reddit now has filters for subs that will show up in that feed, which handy.

It would show up in all. I won't no part of the hyper-liberal echo chamber or the national-populist cesspool.

why go to r/all/ at all? Maybe we just use reddit differently but I only read the subreddits I'm subbed to, so I never see stuff from r/politics or r/TheDonald

How would a Facebook group really work any differently than a subreddit? They're both just names. There are no 'categories' on Reddit; just good (better) names.

> No "real-name" policies

What I enjoy most about Reddit is the quirky, people just being stupid (in a fun way), jokes and humor around many subreddits and prominent on most that appear on /r/popular.

I don't think people would post as openly if real names were attached. So I really think this fosters/allows for that to happen. It's odd that that was something I loved the most about the early internet too and it seems to be rare now.

Pseudonymity makes this possible. Users don't post selfies on Reddit, nor their names, nor do they friend people (though you can follow users). On FB users fear for their privacy, and users fear moralizers.

> Pseudonymity makes this possible.

It makes me think that privacy is highly underestimated by Facebook. While it was once their key value proposition that real identity was desirable on a social site, with increasing political polarization and increased threats of government surveillance, the roles are now reversed and we'll continue to see privacy being treasured.

I have a Facebook account I NEVER post to and only check twice a week for about 30 seconds each instance. I do however spend an inordinate amount of time on Reddit. So much so that I deliberately have to wean myself off Reddit otherwise I'll waste too much time on it.

But there is a lot of groupthink on Reddit, too. Some popular forms you just have to stay out of if you have a different opinion.

Sure, but so there is in FB. On Reddit you can have multiple accounts (all pseudonymous) and you can participate on whichever subreddits you like. If there's some sub that isn't too welcoming of your views, chances are there is another that is -- an echo chamber if you want it thus, sure, but no worse than FB.

You can also have multiple accounts and pseudonymous accounts on FB. Sure, I think it's against their TOS (unlike Reddit) but I see people doing it.

It's a pain, so few do it.

There are also spaces which are extremely tolerant to difference of opinion. You can choose those.

r/changemyview is one favorite example for excellent rational discourse on often very controversial topics.

I'll add r/NeutralPolitics to this list.

r/poltics is awful.

Its a Trump hate thread with very little objectivity.

And then there are those which require objectivity which can be cited and followed up upon. /r/AskHistorians is perhaps the best example of this.

There's nothing wrong with stating an opinion that is unpopular and being downvoted. It usually still contributes to the discussion.

But I agree that aggregate comment vote is not an indicator of correctness - more of whatever way the wind is blowing at a particular time in a particular community.

Why? The worst that will happen is you get downvoted.

You will get rate limited more severely the more downvotes you get.

I've also run into subreddits run by very biased moderators who will mark any stories as spam they disagree or competes with their friends. And due to the shadowban system, many people never realize it.

That's why I stopped submitting comments and stories on reddit. I only browse it now.

Yeah, I don't get the idea of shadowbanning. It seems like a particularly capricious feature.

shadow-banning is handy for spammers and bad-posters because, to them, it looks like their posts are public. Its not hard to find out if you're shadowbanned (use incognito mode), but it often does the trick.

In the subs I mod I have a long list of awful contributors on an auto-remove list executed by automoderator. I've got people who have been saying awful thing to people for years, but those posts are never seen. Banning them will only lead them to create a new account.

I wonder if Facebook happens to know people's Reddit ids through some nefarious data collection scheme.

I'm not sure about that but 100% what you post on reddit will get you targeted for specific ads that appear on facebook

Corresponding to the subreddit you post in (worrisome but understandable), or the content of your comment (scary)?

> No account is required if you just want to read,

It nags you SO hard to sign up. On this front it's no better than using Facebook to look at public posts.

Visiting old.reddit.com/r/all seems to work around the signup popup nag.

When that was "the" Reddit it would only show a few comments before replacing comments with a nag link. I see that behavior is gone now. Thanks

I think it's okay to some extent but I find that forums definitely are a much better resource and controversial threads or posts in forums don't get buried or hidden by a downvote. Some of the most humorous threads you'll read would have had a -inf rating and thus never seen on reddit.

To me, reddit seems a great way for a community to reinforce groupthink.

Instances I can think of are forums for motorcycles, cars, photography, and certain tech forums. The ability to nest down by topic rather than having one giant page for say all of BMW cars is what I like about forums. /r/BMW is basically worthless to me as it's just picture sharing. I also dislike reddit because it's hard to remember a name constantly. It's easier when there's a little profile picture next to the name. You go, "oh yeah, that guy. He's helpful." You remember those posters more often.

Never been a big fan of reddit as it feels pretty shallow in comparison to forums and getting to actually know fellow members decently feels rare.

Don't assume forums are somehow freer of group-think because they are less accessible. Once they get established, the existing user base tends to push out anyone that doesn't agree with their views.

Some subreddits are awesome, and some are way less awesome. And much of the best, most informative and technical information out there lives on subreddits.

Many people pine for the days when only the most savvy users knew about the forums, but I don't think there is any way to bring that era back.

IMO, groupthink is worse here than on Reddit, or at least the subs I visit. Divergent thinking is often celebrated. Here it's more about convergence to the most defensibly informed perspective. I may be wrong, and these differences are subtle in any event. Regardless, any discussion of groupthink on HN should include some critical self-reflection. Please downvote me!

This is exacerbated by the down-voting and flagging asymmetry by established members. I understand how it makes sense to weight those that successfully contribute more to have greater power since they (by some metric) are the community since they were here first and have successfully contributed more. However, it does create the effect that a dissenting viewpoint, if unpopular among those with power, can be effectively squashed. Exhibit A: A very cordial and constructive conversation that was flagged and buried. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17139934

Reddit has a different weighting on this stuff and as a result you get a different culture, and these even differ between sub-reddits, but have the signature of a different weighting system, and a greater ability for sock puppeting. I don't think one is better or worse, just that these trade offs are there and have to happen.

My guess is your comment (not the thread) was flagged because it contained a string of logical fallacies. Edit: This is not intended as a flame just an observation. You're free to disagree. Specifically straw man, false equivalency, conclusion doesn't follow.

Well, maybe. I obviously don't agree and would love to be corrected - hence the point of discussion. You need to see the parent comments to to get the full context of the comment. I'm probably taking a few poetic liberties in the groupings but thats not inflammatory.

It's not the only example though. In my comment history you will see another set of discussions that are essentially the same (but a few months apart) where I'm arguing that autopilot doesn't imply self driving. One was a discussion which seemed balanced by votes (I probably lost). The other descended into users calling me a "smug pedant" and a lot of bullying, about -35 karma (and ultimately my first banning). I was pretty disillusioned by the experience and couldn't really work out what was so different, and why I was banned for defending my point of view despite the other peoples behaviours.

I would never have interpreted your comment as a flame btw - such is the nature of robust discussion, but I appreciate you pointing it out. I think too often people take an intellectual assault on an idea as a personal assault. They are different, and I welcome them despite the pride I lose hopefully learning a lesson. I'm always genuinely grateful of the time a commenter takes to put me in my place, but usually it is just "pedant" and down vote.

If your topic touches YC's vulnerable underbelly in any way, they are very happy to ban you. Other sites are much less temperamental, but a good chunk of that is YC's benefactors have many skeletons in the closet.

Everyone has a different perception on that. Sure, HN is big. Reddit is huge though, with tons upon tons of subreddits. What you perceived based on subreddit X or Y someone else felt different, or they also went to subreddit Z, or solely subreddit Z.

HN serves a rather specific goal, it is basically PG/YC's playground. This community will never be allowed to deviate much from their interests. That's a given you know pretty much when you sign up though.

At the very least Reddit is far more broad. So of course you're going to find a subreddit where you feel you belong. Some just might have to search further. In a way that's an easy statement to make though akin to "If you date enough people, you'll eventually find your soulmate."

Anyway, the comparison is moot due to the size difference. Its more fair to compare subreddits or groups of subreddits (how does that work?) with HN. Such as say startup-related subreddits.

All good points. The most interesting thing about Reddit to me (again, the tiny slice of it that I see, I always come in through the front door) is civility in the presence of anonymity, in 2018. "Come for the cats, stay for the empathy" is pretty right-on.

Real Name policies have failed to increase civility. If anything, the lack of anonimity has stripped the ability to speak out from those who are least empowered.

HN is closer to a very big subreddit than anything. Some subreddits are really good some are awful

I think it would be possible to limit the use of abusive down-voting as a censorship mechanism. You'd need a list of what kinds of posts can be down-voted, and enforcement where people who moderate badly lose the ability to moderate.

It’s much worse. If you say something against the groupthink, especially about a hot button topic, dang will come and ban your account for “being inflammatory”. It’s impossible to discuss certain topics here thanks to the flagging system.

To his defense mods are more consistent than that:

AFAIK you can be punished even if you are part of the groupthink.

Which is good IMO.

Getting rid of anonymity would probably help.

I'm no troll, but I like to keep my fun/hobby life separate from my professional life. My customers don't need to be able to google me and get my "fan theories" about Westworld, etc.

The funny thing is that appears to makes it even worse - even with the attendent "fired for sparking controversy and making the company look bad" risk.

Does that solve the problem on Facebook?

> I also dislike reddit because it's hard to remember a name constantly. It's easier when there's a little profile picture next to the name. You go, "oh yeah, that guy. He's helpful." You remember those posters more often.

To me, personally, I like Reddit because this kind of association is more difficult. I like reading a comment and not having any bias towards the user.

I think it depends on the hobby/forum. The parent mentioned automotive forums, and I would agree that I would much rather remember certain posters. The best written posts aren't always right, for some reason there's a large subset of people who will write an informative-sounding post containing incorrect information. If I'm asking what valve lash specs are or which pin # on a connector is the + EGR solenoid, then I don't care how typo ridden the post is if the information is correct. On a Ducati forum I read, one of the most knowledgeable posters writes at roughly a 5th grade level (combination of being a mechanic and non-native speaker). Doesn't matter, I recognize the profile pic and know that it's worth parsing, the information is likely more accurate than the manual.

Hiwever,for a general discussion that is non-technical, then I would agree that a newb's opinion carrying nearly the same weight as a regular is a good thing.

I can definitely see where credibility is of importance. You point to a great example. What is nice about Reddit is that you do have that option to remember names so that you can do exactly what you describe. Sometimes, subreddits will also take care of that with verified flairs, or alternatively, the user can go out of their way and use RES to make note of users they trust.

> If I'm asking what valve lash specs are or which pin # on a connector is the + EGR solenoid, then I don't care how typo ridden the post is if the information is correct

Oh yeah, the classic Unregistered Hypercam 2, typing in Notepad, kid with a squeaky voice or barely comprehensible Russian or Indian guy Youtube video

Hey, I was working on an old Ural bike today, and damn if I wasn't appreciating those old siberian wrenches. They could at least tell me the proper amount of vodka for the job.

Outside of 3rd party tools (RES) that will allow you to mark users with whatever tags you want, mods can also give custom flair to posters.

I agree, and that's just like here; I primarily read the comments, don't often look at the names.

While it is true that sometimes valid, yet unpopular, opinions get downvoted and buried, most of the times the things getting downvoted and buried are simply comments or opinions that are worthless. They are either trolls, racist, or derogatory comments that I WANT to have hidden from my view.

I think the upvote/downvote system is what makes reddit so popular, since it acts to filter out the useless comments that often fill up other forums.

Unless you have VERY active moderators in those other forums, you will be inundated by useless comments.

Now, reddit's system is not perfect, but the hiding of some comments is certainly a feature and not a shortcoming of the platform.

Though it certainly isn’t a perfect solution for all use-cases, I think the comment system is so incredibly useful for the things it does well that it’s worth dealing with it’s issues. Key example for me is getting answers to questions without someone’s personal bias / agenda leaking through. Five years ago if I had a question about, say, which vitamin supplement brands are good quality, I would have googled it and imply clicked on one of the first few links. In all likelihood that would have led me to a blog post written by one single person making recommendations based on who pays them affiliate dollars. THese days though, I do the same search, but I append “reddit” to the end of the query. Invariably someone has already asked the same question in a subreddit, and the first comment is an answer that survived the onslaught of downvotes that come from spam, bias, etc.

It’s not a perfect system, but it’s loss better than the next best option.

“most of the times the things getting downvoted and buried are simply comments or opinions that are worthless.”

What is your basis for saying “most” of the time. This is very different from my experience and I find it difficult to measure as groupthink prevents discussion, so what do you measure.

I’ve watched many subs for hobbies I follow get boringer and boringer as mods try to enforce various rules and start moderating what’s appropriate or not. As a result, discussion kind of stopped. So I’m glad your experience is that mostly racists get banned, but I’ve seen discussions on /r/badhistory devolve into weird gender/race discussions that don’t really have a productive outcome.

>They are either trolls, racist, or derogatory comments that I WANT to have hidden from my view.

This view is pretty naive. I suspect you just don't hold any opinions against the groupthink of the subreddits you participate in.

I think when its moderated away, it often shows bias. But when its downvoted away, in subreddits which have constituency that shows proper reasoning skills, I tend to agree that its all about quality of the comment.

A controversial comment does in fact command a higher burden of proof. Thus the comment has to be of even higher quality. And when it is, I feel it survives the downvotes.

At least I've generally been able to go against the group think and survive downvotes. But generally you need a clear argument, have a real point, and not show bias.

Now, it won't always fly, but I think high quality controversial comments can.

Well they can't unless there are no other groupthink comments present. By definition a controversial comment isn't getting upvotes from a significant portion of the group so any regular "good" comment will quickly push it down to the bottom.

If the majority of your group is rational, a rational comment will not be controversial even if the view is unpopular. However, the vast majority of the population is not rational when it comes to reading unpopular opinions and that shows in every subreddit.

There are plenty of really shallow forums, and plenty of really close-knit and/or tolerant sub-reddits with good moderators. It's just that the big ones are the easiest to find, and tends to quickly become impossible to moderate in anything but very impersonal ways.

> I also dislike reddit because it's hard to remember a name constantly

There are tons of extensions/apps for Reddit that lets you annotate/tag users and the like. I do tend to agree with that to some extent, though - a more personal touch would make it easier to have conversations feel like they're with people rather than with handles.

Could anyone name any popular extensions other than RES?

Yup. Any hobby or interest I've had has a subreddit, but the quality of discussion and advice is terrible. There's so much that's plain wrong. Forums have plenty of misinformed people, but the density is lower.

Worth recognising that each subreddit is its own community, and like individual forums, will likely vary wildly by subject. My experience of subreddits for my interests and hobbies is the opposite to yours; information is correct and discussion useful.

I think Reddit skews really young, and therefore less experienced. I'll see way more technically informative posts by crusty old beards on subject-specific forums.

> To me, reddit seems a great way for a community to reinforce groupthink.

I think this is due to its utterly basic up/downvoting as well as its completely-unenforced TOS which state you should not downvote simply for disagreeing.

When you downvote, you should have to specify a reason (such as "offtopic") and one of the reasons should not remotely be "I disagree"

Have any major forums tried a two-axis voting system -- something like Agree/Disagree and Good post/Bad post? I know some people would abuse this and hammer both downvote buttons out of mere disagreement, but I think it would improve the situation.

In most of the subreddits I've seen, it's clear that upvoting for agreement and downvoting for disagreement are both rampant, and I think this is self-perpetuating. When I read a quality post that I disagree with, I would like to stick to the supposed spirit of the voting system and upvote, but I'll think twice about doing so because I know it will be misinterpreted. Giving me a way to explicitly signal one thing and not the other would break this bind.

And even if the system was still abused by 50% of people, it would be possible to offer some interesting filter settings: for example, you could favour posts with a relatively high ratio of Good Post points to Agree points, on the theory that highly agreed-with posts will probably score more Good Post points than they deserve.

Well there are various forums with post rating/reaction plugins, and those separate them. But I'm not sure any larger sites use such a system, with most others with similar systems having no downvote/disagree (Facebook) or having it not agreement based at all (Slashdot).

Some of the politics subreddits are the worst places for this. Anything that questions, disagrees or even states facts that go against the common grain, can quickly be downvoted into oblivion.

And the other side of that coin is possibly even more annoying: plenty of obviously dumb comments rise to the top, presumably because a lot of people agree with the sentiments they express. I think two-axis voting (see my other comment in this thread) might fail to save subreddits that have already sunk into all-consuming tribalism, but it could help others to avoid that fate.

I wish they would institute a more Slashdot-like moderation system (which is what I think you are describing).

BTW, I think the default downvote reason should be "disagree" because that's the majority use case for it despite what the Reddit designers intended. If a vote was accompanied by more information (offtop, funny, disagree, etc...) then I could tailor my experience better.

I find the purely time-based ranking in forums helps there a lot. Reddit basically forces repeats over repeats of "old" topics, where a forum could handle it in in one large thread. Those can get unwieldly on large forums, but in many ways I still prefer a 50 page thread over 50 different posts somewhere in the subreddit history, with different titles. Especially if the forum community is good at maintaining roundup posts.

HN has that issue too in some ways, with threads about company X always repeating the same arguments, which in a forum at least somewhat could be channeled in extra discussions.

Car-related subreddits are the most useless thing compared to a forum for that car.

You get the same dumb questions over and over plus the “hey guys just joined the club, what are some must-have mods” one picture posts, who never return.

I think it depends on the specific Reddit community and how it's moderated. I moderate a community with 80k+ subscribers, and I put a lot of effort into keeping it on topic and interesting. (And we have community flair so users can add something very similar to a profile photo.

> It's easier when there's a little profile picture next to the name.

I've been thinking about updating my GitHub profile photo, but this is what's stopping me. No one will know who I am anymore. :P

> I think it's okay to some extent but I find that forums definitely are a much better resource and controversial threads or posts in forums don't get buried or hidden by a downvote.

In many of my hobbies it's the other way around, controversial topics are censored or locked by overzealous forum admins but are visible on Reddit, which has a more laissez-faire attitude in terms of moderation.

But there is a giant subreddit for all BMW cars...

Does it have dank memes?

OP complained that it’s basically a photo sharing sub.

yeah, but sites like r3vlimited, rennlist, jeepforum are just better moderated, more friendly and have more helpful content (i.m.h.o)

subreddit flairs help with personifying, and you can tag people. Eventually you remember usernames of frequent commenters.

Subreddits and forums are fundamentally different.

Forums are linear and your are expected to have read all the post to post in one thread. There is also the old members who nag you into not creating a new thread but use the search tool to comment on an old one. There is forum local stars that control the discourse far more than on subreddits, and the photo + footer customization make them more prone starification and to group think.

On subreddit freshness is always welcomed even it is an old subject with a different spin. You are not expected to present you, there is no random subforum, you can be focused.

Reddittors' frequent insistence on no reposts and original content seems to contradict your assertions

I have a bunch of old folders full of funny images that I would love to post but I'm quite sure I will get accused of karma whoring, even though I just want to share funny pictures that are more funny than the current crop of memes

In my experience that tends to only be true in the larger subreddits. The (potentially) more niche subreddits I use don't have that same problem outside of maybe a 'read the FAQs before posting'

Which is ironic since Reddiquette encourages re- and cross-posting.

You must be frequenting very specific sub-reddits then. There are plenty that are similarly moderated than forums. And yes, if you ask the same question that has been answered 50 times before, you should accept the fact that it's your job to spend some amount of time to search, instead of just waiting till someone delivers you answers.

And for the majority of the large subs for a specific interest, they are astroturfed to hell and back. Much of the content you see on /r/all is likely corporate shilling with sock puppets controlling the promotion of the item and the comments within.

There should be Moore's/ Poe's law for the correlation of the size and influence of a site to the amount of corporate influence on said site. As the natural user base grows to a certain point, it becomes impossible to tell what is organic and what is advertisements or narrative pushing propaganda.

Same issue exists on Youtube and IG with product review shilling.

Sheds a whole new light on the situation when you realize the youtube vid you're watching for tool reviews is actually a disguised advertisement punctuated by auto playing obvious ads.

> And for the majority of the large subs for a specific interest, they are astroturfed to hell and back. Much of the content you see on /r/all is likely corporate shilling with sock puppets controlling the promotion of the item and the comments within.

And even more common than actual shilling is unsubstantiated accusations of shilling.

You could be right, I grant you, but anecdotally more cases of the latter stick out in my experience.

Good shilling (or "guerilla marketing") is hardly detectable, whereas people that complain about it are trying to draw attention. That could explain why cases of one are more visible (regardless of the actual frequency of either).

Good shilling is hardly detectable. Front the logo on a can of coke and leave it in frame (next to a ring maybe) while a couple kisses, post it with the title "happiest moment of my life".

It's subtle, you can use photoshop to make it, and anyone who would call you out on it can easily be framed as whiny and paranoid. They don't have the funds to buy influence on the thread anyway, so you could just slide their posts and avoid dealing with them if you wanted.

I'm not saying anything about how often this stuff actually happens (because no one will tell you they've done it so metrics aren't possible), but I will say only the most obvious plays can get caught. But enough about that, let's just talk about Rampart (joking there, I think AMAs are basically stated to be promotion, it just popped into my head)

It's true social media such as reddit attracts marketing, but that doesn't mean everything that could be marketing is. The obvious problem with claims of invisible marketing is that they're impossible to disprove. Also, if shilling were nearly as prevalent as the original commenter asserted it couldn't be kept such a secret.

There may be real shilling on occasion, but the damage to constructive discourse from unverifiable shilling accusations seems greater than whatever the benefits of constant vigilance are supposed to be.

If marketing were really so seamless and even valuable, it would remind me of xkcd 810: https://m.xkcd.com/810/

I know /r/bitcoin and /r/btc (for those who don't know, the two are on opposite ends of the Bitcoin vs. Bitcoin Cash aka small block/large block debate) toss the word around so regularly as to redefine it as a synonym for "dissent".

Posts like this seem so dishonest. The entire point of shilling would be hiding the fact that your shilling (otherwise you'd buy an ad), so of course we don't have deep documentation of exactly who is shilling when, where, how much they're paid, etc.

What we do have is the knowledge of companies/groups dedicated to "influencing online opinion" (e.g. Correct the record, Share Blue, etc.). They don't advertise what they're doing but there somewhere doing influencing. Seems reasonable that they'd be on the biggest social sites doing their work.

What I've personally seen as very obvious shilling is GMO related topics on reddit (regardless of where you stand on the issue). You can be on the most obscure sub you can find, and if anyone says something critical about GMO products there will be a rebutal post within a short time always using the exact same arguments, exact same articles, terminology, etc. When new variations of the defense are developed they are instantly deployed site wide. This is for sure an organized group of people. Are they paid for it? I'm not sure, but for the effort they put in I hope they don't do it for free.

If I had infinite time, it would be intesting to do some deep data analysis on the posts on reddit and try to figure out how many are coordinated.

People don't need to be part of a secret organization to use the same arguments, sources, and terminology. A common cause or ideology will suffice.

I'm sure shill-theorists are not puppets of a secret cabal, for example, despite them all using the same unsourced anecdotes and unfalsifiable theories in their attempts to expose the truth about shilling.

>There should be Moore's/ Poe's law for the correlation of the size and influence of a site to the amount of corporate influence on said site.

For parody subreddits, I think there's a rule that at 80k subs, it starts to become the very thing it was parodying in the first place

Its kind of astonishing to me how no one even seems to notice. Its not so popular now, but the /r/murica used to be a joke about overzealous patriotism, then it became something... else. pcmasterrace way back in the day did the same, now its just a pc enthusiast subreddit. I didn't pay as much attention to it, but the the_donald originally was tongue in cheek before it was overtaken by trump zealots and just strangeness...

> but the /r/murica used to be a joke about overzealous patriotism, then it became something... else

Maybe people did notice, and just decided to take this subreddit for something else than laughing at over-patriotism. It's a very successful strategy against shaming, if you can pull it off - just not being ashamed and not being afraid to demonstrate it. Reddit provides excellent venue for that, subreddits being good Schelling points.

Reminds me of a quote that goes something to the effect of "If you make company pretending to be idiots, than you'll eventually be in company of idiots."

Right that's basically Poe's law. Paraphrasing here but: "When a subject becomes sufficiently extreme, it becomes nearly impossible to differentiate serious discussion from satire".

I was thinking a combination of Poe's approach to subject matter with Moore's approach to the increase of transistors (users/ traffic in this analogue) over a period of time.

Isn't that how /r/the_donald started?

Not really no.

It was more of an offshoot of the gamer gate crowd. There were a few different pro Trump subs; TD just so happened to be the one that took off.

It is a pretty honest sub though; It's supposed to be a non stop Trump rally - clearly subversive content and discourse will be banned and removed.

Source: was there when the original mod drama was kicking off at around 30k subs. Can't remember the guys username but he got booted once the sub took off (around 100k subs) and its almost certainly run by mods on the campaign dole currently.

I wouldn't assume it's not happening on HN too. Think of the value of a prominent HN user's, or several users', positive comments about a product - in our industry, that's probably worth a lot more than the same on any subreddit (or on any blog or on Facebook). If advertisers have reached out to users on those platforms, why wouldn't they reach out to users here? If I were unscrupulous and had a product that HN users buy or influence, I'd definitely try it.

Being humans, we'd rather close our eyes to it unless we are compelled to face it - such things complicate every discussion and disrupt our happy community. And now you know why propaganda and advertising persist on Facebook and Reddit, and in society.

>they are astroturfed to hell and back. Much of the content you see on /r/all is likely corporate shilling with sock puppets controlling the promotion of the item and the comments within.

Is there any actual evidence of this as a widespread phenomenon? The /r/hailcorporate people are among the most annoying on Reddit.

I bet the people who run astroturfing campaigns on Reddit have plenty of data on how effective it is. Wither that data is publicly available...

If you are successful at astroturfing and have good stats to prove it, what would be your motivation to hide that? Of course you would not want to reveal specific campaigns, usernames & subreddits you used, but what would be your motivation to hide the stats that are not identifiable? Your corporate identity would not be linkable to astroturfing usernames anyway - that's kinda the point of whole enterprise - so why not make it publicly available?

OTOH, if you know or suspect that astroturfing has a very low ROI, you have lots of motivation to not publish anything, but instead tell the clients: "our ROI is spectacular, but unfortunately we can't show any data or stats because you know, we have to do it in secret, so just trust us and pay us $TONS_OF_MONEY, and it'll all be awesome!"

I can't provide any evidence but I will say any company not utilising the opportunity are missing out big time and it's actually extremely easy to do.

Try this yourself - use imgur and upload some reaction gifs to an account so you can go back and see the view count later.

Don't spam the images but work your way through some comments sections from /all, find some comments you can use your reaction gif on and head back to imgur a few hours later. I expect you may be surprised just how many views that one link you posted got.

Comments get way more views than a picture because people will read a comment more often as they scroll past than people who click a link.

Now imagine you're someone who wants to promote an idea or a product. The amount of eyes that go over what you type into that comment box has the power to drive big traffic. Even just a few thousand views from one comment looking at or even just thinking about that product or idea on a large scale with barely any effort.

I can't prove it happens but I'm more than confident it does.

> Let's say a new TV show starts airing, and you really like it and want to discuss it more. You can probably bet there's a subreddit for it, and in that community, a ton of people interested in it.

Before someone could go to the IMDB forums and discuss it. I think they did the job a lot better - if you found a conversation about a particular episode and wanted to comment on it a few weeks after it was made, you could and the topic would come back to the top. With Reddit (and Hacker News), if you're late to the party no one is going to see your comment because the topic is already buried.

Reddit's large variety of user created communities as well as anonymous handles make the site pretty useful. But in terms of the format of the communities, I think the old style of forums were much more conducive to actual ongoing conversations.

I didn't know IMDB even had forums. And they're gone.

IMDB forums required signing up to even read threads, if memory serves. Every now and then I'd try to figure out where else I'd seen some actor, notice an interesting sounding topic at the bottom of the page, click on it, be told I had to register in order to read, and then get annoyed and leave.

Note to companies: Don't do crap like this. Let people lurk. If they like the content then they'll create an account. Forcing them to create an account before they're even allowed to read comments is is sure-fire way to fail.

I'm looking at you, Quora!

I noticed quora also started forcing you to use their app instead of the mobile site. Since they did that I just stopped reading the news feed completely. I used to read it every day.

I think IMDB is a good example of why registration is a good thing: discussions on there were of very high quality and I learned a lot about a given movie by combing through them. You would have to have a subreddit for every movie out in order to come close to replicating that experience on Reddit, and it seems registration kept a lot of the riff-raff out.

I've been a member on IMDB since the end of '90s, and I've seen high quality discussions and low quality discussions on IMDB. I think it goes too far to say that either is dominant. I can say though that controversial / politics related subjects likely create low quality discussion whereas clever movie plots generate high quality discussions. At least, that's my perception/experience of it. We both got our data point of experience, and that's it. We need some kind of data / analysis to get to a more coherent, unbiased viewpoint.

There's a difference between requiring an account to lurk and requiring one to post messages

I’ll bet that this is primarily not because of registration but primarily because of topic constraints- you can only discuss movies.

And I’m guessing there was some problem, which is why they shut the forums down.

IMDB forums were fantastic. I still have plenty of posts/comments on there. But if they're now gone, that's sad

They got bizarrely toxic toward the end. It was always a mixed bag, with weird comments by seemingly unstable people, but many well-written and insightful comments, too. Over the last couple of years, as I recall, it became a hotbed of weird, political comments. Lots of posts like "Typical LIBERAL agenda nonsense!" and lots of outright toxic, inflammatory replies to completely ordinary questions.

I'd love to know what group targeted IMDB, because it's the most successful takeover I've ever seen.

Archived here: https://filmboards.com/

I just noticed that I submitted an imdb comment/review in March of this year. The boards still look up. Did something change?

The discussions on IMDB forums seemed almost universally on-topic and in-depth. I learned a lot about various movies by combing those forums... subreddits do not even come close.

Unfortunately, those two things are also Reddit's problems.

For starters, everything being centralised means one party now has control over multiple communities, which allows for censorship that wasn't there in the days of separate forums.

And tying identities together... well that's probably why there's so much drama online now. Because everyone presents themselves differently to different groups in the real world, and the difficulty of tying multiple sides of one person together is what keeps humanity and society sane.

But Reddit has certainly done a lot for discoverability and brining communities together.

One of the major issues not often discussed is the "powermods", or the small subset of users who are the moderators of a huge number of subreddits. They can and often do enforce their biases on multiple unrelated communities. Reddit's moderators selection process ensures that they cannot be replaced even if a majority of the community don't support them without creating a brand new subreddit.

I have a major issue with this too. I posted an idea for the admins to counter this type of thing by allowing users if they wish to, to blacklist mods so that a user can still view content that those mods have removed without having any effect on users who don't blacklist those mods.

It went as we'll as I expected it probably would have.


I don't know if I went about it the wrong way but I felt I had well reasoned responses but the few replies I got were weak, and the votes indicate that mods don't want to even think about losing any power or being undermined. A sort of I'm right, you're wrong mentality - the kind that my idea would combat.

Your idea seemed interesting, but I think "blacklist" is too strong a term. Perhaps "hide mod action" would have gone better.

Or "ignore mod action"

> everything being centralised means one party now has control over multiple communities

Which is precisely why I started working on a federated alternative that uses ActivityPub to let users essentially build cross-server homepages of their own.

Sounds interesting. Make sure to mention it on here as a Show HN post when it's done!

It's essentially usenet for current times. Which I've always found interesting, as usenet would give reddit users back the freedoms they often crave: no ads, no censorship, no tracking, etc.

Don't forget "no banning"

There was a mod once that banned everyone across all feminist/gender subreddits who was subscribed to /r/redpill once, based purely on potential toxicity. I was only subscribed to talk some sense into those guys, but instead I got banned from the very subreddits I was being a good contributor to (I was a Psych major and am interested in those things).

So as a result I simply unsubbed across all my Reddit accounts from everything and anything gender-related and everything that was not supportive or sex-positive, because it's an un-critically-thinking cesspool (actually, this criticism can sadly be levied at most of Reddit proper).

Oh yeah, this is the cutting edge of mod techniques now - predict based on association.

Usenet had plenty of ads, I’d still prefer it to reddit though.

Few Reddit users actually crave that, hence the success of Reddit. Neo-Nazis for one example, do crave that, because otherwise they’re shut down. If you want unfettered freedom, try Voat, it’s downright pestilential, but it’s free.

Disagree. I think many people want ad-free, untracked experiences. Censorship is a value that different communities have different opinions on, but for some reason often drowns the debate on alternative communities.

The alternative communities often speak for themselves, while the popularity of the mainstream does as well. For a perfect example, look no further than here at Hacker News. The moderation is very active, but here we are enjoying civil conversation because of that moderation. To go back to my previous example, look at Voat, it’s just the worst place to be. I don’t love Reddit, but it has its upsides, such as science, history, tech, and other subs. Voat has fulminating hate boners and tumbleweeds, and literally nothing else.

So again, we can talk about what we think people want, their declared preferences and ideologies, or we can just look at what they do. The revealed preferences of a significant majority is to be free of trolls and shit stirrers, unless they’re trying to troll or stir shit themselves, then suddenly they’re 1st amendment activists.

>Voat has fulminating hate boners and tumbleweeds, and literally nothing else.

I go there and I can tell you this is categorically false. No one's asking you about "the JQ" in the gardening or painting communities.

There's a lot of VERY unpalatable content on voat because its free speech and censorship policies allow what nearly no one else will, but to claim that's literally all that's present there is just a case of finding what you set out to find regardless of what's there.

Freedom means accepting the existence or discussion of things you don't like.

I think you're wrong when you say people don't want freedom or a no-censorship environment because reddit is popular. What people want and what people will tolerate are very different things.

Right, no one is asking anything in those communities, because they’re the tumbleweeds.

Voat has fulminating hate boners and tumbleweeds, and literally nothing else.


Jesus that’s dead. Meanwhile if you want to hear some skinhead rant, that’s plenty active. Accept what you want, but I’m not interested in the internet equivalent of a Klan rally or a skinhead bar. I’ll go to the reputable establishment down the street that 86’s violent drunks, because loud, violent assholes make for a lousy social experience. You can enjoy a post every month or so in Gardening on Voat, because “freedom”.

Or hell, just look at Voat's /v/all page. I just took a look myself, and I saw page of posts that included two posts from a Pizzagate sub, a comic that refers to refugees as "rapefugees", and a self post which unironically used the phrase "anti-White". I only saw one post that looked like it was from a general-interest sub (/v/JustGrowIt); everything else -- even posts from humor subs -- was unabashedly political.

There's one saving grace, and that is that there's very little overall activity on the site. The day's top posts on /v/all have scores in the low hundreds -- the equivalent page on Reddit has scores in the hundreds of thousands.

> a self post which unironically used the phrase "anti-White"

I think one can use anti-White unironically (even if it was not the case here). For example, white farmers in South Africa having their lands confiscated by the Gov without compensation is anti-White.

I think you missed the point of my post. Attitudes about censorship are orthogonal to the desire for ad-free, tracking-free communities. I get it that censorship is the hot-button issue and everyone has an opinion on it, but it is its own separate, complicated issue. I'm strong in my desire to have an ad-free, tracking-free community and I have friends on the Fediverse and other new social networks who echo my belief, and this belief is orthogonal to moderation.

> or we can just look at what they do

I don't really want to debate censorship, but I will say that I think the issue is a lot more complicated than looking at what "they" "do".

I looked at voat and agree that it's terrible -- but I'm not convinced that the big difference between reddit and voat is moderation. My understanding is that voat superficially presented itself as a bastion of free speech, but marginally below the surface it was always pretty clearly targeted at the alt-right. So it was inevitably going to take on a certain tone, somewhat independently of its stance on censorship. (On the other hand, I suspect you're right, and I can't think of any examples of unmoderated spaces that contradict your point.)

TIL: pestilential

A few years ago my boss (in his mid-40s) said he had no idea what Reddit was, and my explanation to him was that it was the 2nd-10th best place to look for information on things, but it was the 2nd-10th best place to look for information on a whole lot of things. If you already have domain knowledge about a particular subject, then you might know of a better forum for that subject, but just going to /r/[whatever] would at least get you started.

These days it seems like it's more the 1st-10th, especially for new topics. I feel like a lot of middle sized gaming communities have settled on Reddit as the default forum. Larger ones can support multiple external sites, and smaller ones may never have their heavy supporters reach Reddit, but there seems to be a sweet spot where there's enough different contributors that want to congregate somewhere, and unless one of the early ones also has the skills to set up their own forum elsewhere and gets people to adopt it early, Reddit will end up being that place.

I think the flip side to this is that the communities are becoming so large now that they aren't really a community. I sometimes go on the /r/UK and the level of discussion gets lower and lower as the community dissolves. Rather than getting to know people everyone is just shouting into the void - unaware of who anyone else is.

r/unitedkingdom is a special kind of terrible because it's essentially all cynicism and politics all the time. It got to the point where a lot of people left for r/casualuk which is basically politics free.

The advantage to Reddit is the ability for other communities to just pop up and potentially fill gaps.

Usually once a sub hits a certain level of activity... I leave and look for another one ;)

Community fracture is a huge feature of reddit. Something becomes to big, it spins off in to a new community. I rarely go to /r/rpg or /r/programming, but I love /r/genesysrpg and /r/haskell.

I think this is more associated with the fact that all communities (real communities) are small. Try a more focused interest group. /r/pathology, for example, is only a few thousand folks, mainly people working at the graduate or post-doctoral level.

If you tack /comments on the end of smaller subreddits you get a vbulletin-like effect of bumping the most recent conversation to the top. This can be useful if you’re jonesing for a debate but nothing’s moving.

This is an interesting observation. In a podcast [0], Mark Zuckerberg states that his vision behind Facebook has always been to connect people. To make them part of a group as he stresses that every individual has a need for that at some point in life. He stresses that he wants to make this possible even for those with rare conditions that would require a group spread throughout the world. So enable them as they would not be able normally as their neighborhood would simply not have the correct prerequisites to form that group (i.e members).

Your statement that reddit is better at this than Facebook would be in line with Reddit passing Facebook if indeed the purpose of both sites is as described by you and Mark Zuckerberg.

[0] http://freakonomics.com/podcast/mark-zuckerberg/

Personally, I have a hard time believing that Zuckerberg actually believes that vision. Recent events also suggest otherwise, that Facebook is a pure profit machine under the guise of social media, even to it's own detriment, which we've seen pick up steam over the past few months.

Reddit's founder however, despite sometimes holding some controversial views compared to their dominant user base, kept on fostering a community of largely uncensored free speech and allowing people to connect. There are a few exceptions (obvious hate subs, rogue mods, etc) but for the most part, everyone can find a niche and join a community without fearing the platform will change so much to squeeze an extra buck out them.

Reddit and FB are both in the ad revenue game, but Reddit's largely anonymous user model lends itself to those ads feeling less intrusive. If I can live with giving up my fake internet points, I can effectively reset the data Reddit has on me by creating a new account. There could be some residual leftover data depending on IP addresses, but since most houses have multiple occupants, it's not an easy one to one pairing process between an IP address and an particular user.

Not sure where I was going with this. Just spewing nonsense I suppose :)

I turned off that interview when he said that. Saying his tool is designed to connect people, while missing how effective a tool it's been for dividing people is willfully ignorant at best.

> their neighborhood would simply not have the correct prerequisites to form that group (i.e members).

Or: wouldn't have the right kind of lunatics in the numbers needed to form a sufficiently reverberant echo chamber.

The thing is you can't have one without the other. You can't enable niche communities in a platform without also enabling communities that you consider reprehensible. You can try but all such attempts tend to devolve into a game of whackamole and frequent bad PR storms.

Sure, but the specialized subreddits are a little too "baseline". For my hobbies, I still go on the actual forums when I need to speak with someone about issues beyond entry level.

Me, too. the one place I see Reddit shining is in the self-help type subs, like r/personalfinance, for example. But for topics that require significant specialization, or a specialized, knowledgeable audience (like anything research, repair or creation), forums are undoubtedly superior.

Some of those are so bad as to be straight up dangerous (e.g. r/fitness).

Sure downvote the guy with an opinion... HN can be so petty so very often.

You're right. I have a 1970's cub tractor and a 70's twosmoke Yamaha cafe racer. The search for knowledge on these items are entirely forums and blogs, never had a hit on Reddit worth a damn.

Youtube is great for this stuff assuming people don't remove their videos. For anything car related, it will be on forums. Same with guns - any in depth discussion is going to be on something like arfcom. When I was looking up information on barrel twists for different lengths and ammo for my 300 BO build, everything was on a forum.

I found forums to be much higher quality than Reddit threads. Reddit threads too often devolve into memes, nostalgia, or subreddit inside jokes

For all the yapping everyone does about decentralizing everything, you're arguing that centralizing every community on the internet is a good thing.

Reddit essentially replaced Usenet.

That was called 'usenet'.

> There are groups on Facebook, but it's so tied to you that it's hard to just be a part of a community.

It's also a lot less sreamlined. Dare I say it, reddit feels kind of like an RSS stream of popular content.

Facebook groups feel much more like "go check in and read this group" and the timeline has become increasingly useless.

I feel like there's potentially a market for a general forum that provides the ability for anyone to create subforums, the same way Reddit has subreddits. Obviously you'd need something more advanced than the usual complete subforum list as the main page.

Big forums like SomethingAwful already have may subforums for different interests, and letting people create subforums seems like a logical next step from that. You could create ones for interests, or even for your business so you don't have to set up your own forum. If it seems weird to have a subforum for a business inside a larger forum, well, people already do exactly that on Facebook and Reddit.

Reddit provides something similar to the same thing, but the format doesn't work well for long term or chronological discussions.

Maybe the time for traditional forums has been and gone, but I'm not so sure.

> The biggest value gain from Reddit, to me, is the ability to centralize effectively around different hobbies and activities.

Not only that, but I use subreddits to organise my research. I collect links to papers and articles as top comments in threads (along with BibTeX information for easy copying), and if it's a book I just list down passages. I then put my notes and thoughts as comments under each.

I know Zotero, wikis and (One|Ever)note are things nowadays, but honestly it gets tiring to have to keep switching contexts every so often.


I can certainly attest to this that reddit is a great tool in gathering like minded people. I experienced this recently with the Longfin Blockchain Corp, a NASDAQ traded garbage that the SEC is now investigating.

It was amazing to see how quickly a community sprang from the ashes of financial ruin.

> and you really like it and want to discuss it more

Reddit is a terrible place to discuss anything. Great place to see funny memes about your favorite hobbies and TV shows though.

You're using it wrong.

Shout out to r/UnixPorn


Keep in mind:

1) Most Facebook users use the app, not the website, which Alexa doesn't track (Which is also why Facebook doesn't fear commonly used ad blockers).

2) Alexa uses a number of metrics to rank sites, including pages visited. Reddit users load many more individual pages than FB users.

In reality, Reddit is nowhere near close to the traffic and engagement leviathan that is Facebook.

An absolute ton of Reddit users browse the site via apps too. Something to keep in mind.

I still agree that Facebook is larger though.

I don't know the usage stats, but I think the app/website ratio is nowhere near the one of facebook. Some probable reasons for this (unbacked) claim:

1) Long sessions are more suitable on a laptop/desktop than on a smartphone (the average session time is ~15mn).

2) There is still a nerdy userbase (mostly early users) who prefer to use the website with all the features.

3) The app is relatively recent (April 2016 vs 2012 for Facebook).

4) The official app is not really good IMO (e.g. scrolling is laggy and the UI could be better).

Nobody uses the official reddit apps. I've been using third party reddit apps (which are amazing) since 2010 (Galaxy S1).

They push it on their mobile site to anyone who visits, so I wouldn't say "nobody". I use it

Well I use the official app. I tried redditisfun but it was pretty much the same. Do you suggest any other app?

Apollo is brilliant for iOS users.


Been using it since release and I don't use the Reddit website directly now except to give gold.

Relay is quite good, I have (shamefully) used it for hour-long browsing sessions.

I'll second this. I've tried other ones but I always end up coming back to Relay.

On android, previously I used RedReader but I have since switched to Slide https://github.com/ccrama/Slide/ (available on Fdroid).

It has a nice UI and a lot of neat features.

Check out Sync for reddit for Android [0] and iOS (Beta) [1]

[0] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.laurenceda...

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/sync_ios/

RedReader is great and open source.

Well, I would say that your #1 reason is quite untrue. I can't speak for everyone, but I rarely browse Reddit on a computer. The only reason to do so is because I want to write a long response. Normally I'm browsing from an app so I can lay on the couch and watch TV while I'm doing it.

#2 could be true, but it might not be.

Regarding the apps, I paid for BaconReader on Android over 6 years ago and still use it. It works fine for me. I have no desire to switch to the official app.

As a moderator of a decent-sized subreddit, the number of people who complain they weren't aware of our rules because they use a mobile client (that makes it impossible to view the sidebar, where the rules are mentioned) suggests to me there's a ton of mobile users you're discounting.

Re: 3)

Official app on iOS used to be a third party app called Alien Blue. Reddit basically purchased it, re-branded it as official, and viola. On iOS it had tons of usage prior to that. Incidentally after the rebranding is when I stopped using it and moved to Apollo.

Reddit acquired AlienBlue and re-released the client as their official app in 2014.

People who visit reddit regualry have most probably some client on their mobile.

You're just pulling these points out of thin air.

While this maybe true, none of what you mention has changed recently but this ranking did. This ranking change at least points to a trend. Maybe the percentage of mobile use is increasing at faster rate on FB vs Reddit, recently. But according to the nextweb link someone shared in this thread, FB had nearly 90% of their traffic via mobile already in 2016.

what changed recently: craigslist and all other sex classifieds closing because of new US legislation and camwhoring going mainstream.

both of those thing converged into reddit.

Remember when people thought Facebook wasn't going to be able to pivot to mobile ads and make money there?

It's quite possible that Reddit has many more mobile users than desktop users, but I can't say whether the official app is the most-used of the bunch

Thanks for noting this, as I am not a reddit or facebook user, the headline and alexa page said nothing of actual usage trends.

plus a lot of Facebook users concerned about their privacy installed some third party script blockers. They are probably now below Alexa's radar

I would hazard a guess that percentage-wise more of Reddit's users are savvy enough to install script blockers than Facebook users are.

There's no way this amount to a significant number.

> Most Facebook users use the app, not the website


"90% of Facebook’s daily active users access it via mobile" - https://thenextweb.com/facebook/2016/01/27/90-of-facebooks-d...

And before you suggest that those users might still be using it on desktop more than on mobile:

"Mobile advertising revenue represented approximately 91% of advertising revenue for the first quarter of 2018, up from approximately 85% of advertising revenue in the first quarter of 2017." - https://investor.fb.com/investor-news/press-release-details/...

That doesn't say whether they are using an app on mobile or just a mobile browser. The app is (was? I haven't used it in ages) a notorious energy-hog that will drain your battery.

Unfortunately I can't find numbers that break down mobile site vs. native app use.

Judging by how poorly maintained and how rarely updated the mobile site is, I think it's safe to assume that the vast majority of people are using the native apps, not the mobile site. Major features like the marketplace and video tabs are nowhere to be seen on the mobile site, for example. If the mobile sites were getting the bulk of users, Facebook would surely prioritize it.

I don't think that's safe to assume at all. A lot of phone users (think mostly older people) still don't really know what an app store is. I don't have any numbers, but from seeing how 'ordinary' people use their phones, I wouldn't make any assumptions about preferring apps.

As for facebook's priorities - they could surely also be neglecting the mobile site with the aim of getting people to install and use their app. Again, I don't know if this is the case, but it's certainly plausible.

I think that might have been true in 2009. It's far from true today.

I just noticed this FB blog post: https://developers.facebook.com/ads/blog/post/2018/05/09/rel.... The chart at the top shows app vs. web use of mobile devices, not just for FB but overall. As I expected, mobile web is significantly smaller than native apps, from a time-spent standpoint.

Agreed. I haven't used the app in years. Instead I use mbasic.facebook.com. When I check the demographics Facebook puts me in for advertisers, I'm categorized as a "mobile user".

I agree. The amount of the network, data center engineering resources between facebook and reddit aren't even on the same magnitude.

That's not really comparable. Facebook needs much more computation while reddit is basically just a database full of text.

Each user has their own view of the frontpage though, which is computationally pretty expensive. Trees of comments similarly can get data heavy. Hard to compare IMO

Reddit works because it’s anonymous, information-dense and relatively ad-free. Change any one of those three and the user base will abandon you.

It’s been Reddit’s dilemma since the beginning: you can’t monetize a toxic user base that has total freedom. Sure you can try to drive away the toxic users, but it turns out that those toxic users are also pretty influential in non-toxic aspects.

I’m still skeptical of Reddit’s ability to turn a profit. But as a community platform it’s the best out there IMO.

As an immigrant with no family to rely on in the US, I always give credit to Reddit for helping me learn so many things from buying old/used car, applying to grad school, to looking for an apartment. Just like you said, its diverse user base means it has almost all the information one needs. I hope it never changes (although with the recent re-design, I'm afraid it might have unintended repercussions...)

As a native-born American with all of my family in the US, I use Reddit for the same category of things too :)

As a dead animal carcass whos insides are torn out and spewed out along the side of the road, I wish I could use reddit for similar, yet somewhat more distant categories too ^.^

That’s a strange fursona...

This made me lol at work. Don't know why this is getting downvoted

Your first phrase answers the second. Humor is only upvoted in HN if it provokes a wry smile.

Too busy changing the world for the better to smile.

s/changing the world for the better/chasing those sweet adtech dollars/g

Is anyone else cynical about this phrase?

Changing the world inside the box of the status quo.

How many stars do I have to give my Uber driver till they get paid sick days, paid vacation, healthcare and a pension?

> How many stars do I have to give my Uber driver till they get paid sick days, paid vacation, healthcare and a pension?

I don't think there's a checkbox for that. It will need some -shudder- regulation to take care of that one.

I often use reddit as a search engine for answers with a "human touch" for lack of a better word. I once did this with del.icio.us back in the "social bookmarking" days. I'm curious if this is a big use case for Reddit users do this too?

Maybe not based on the low quality of their search engine...

I frequently do the same with "site:reddit.com" searches on Google for "human touch" answers. I do the same thing with Hacker News for technical topics.

I just learned a powerful searching tactic! Thanks for the tip!

Indeed, I use reddit whenever I

a) Plan to learn/read something new

b) Just finished a book/tv series and want to connect with others around it.

c) Looking for recommendations in various genres

Daily news/connecting with people/cat videos are very far away from my use case. Just append "reddit" to qoogle search query and 9 times out of 10, I am golden.

I think the focus on the toxic user base is an artifact of the idea of one-dimensionally categorizing people based on their political ideology. That is such a hot button right now that it completely overshadows all other contributions to society in most forums. Reddit, by allowing some bad behavior and anonymity diffuses that ever present political aspect of modern life.

The kind of toxic people we are talking about on Reddit are not toxic for their politics. Racism, bigotry, and misogyny are not political topics. It isn't like tax policy or any other topic that can be debated. There is one clear side that is wrong.

So there's no debate to be had on affirmative action, and everyone who supports it is racist and wrong? Plenty of people I know consider it racist.

The reality is, how people and groups define terms like racism, bigotry, and misogyny is often very politicized.

It is possible to have a civil discussion about things like affirmative action or immigration policy. Many reasonable people can disagree on those issues (racists just happen to have very strong opinions on these issues). You are being naive if you think everything that is labeled as racist on Reddit is part of a normal civil discussion. Subreddits like /r/Coontown and the many-headed hydra that pop up whenever those subreddits are banned are not looking to civilly debate these policies. They are looking to spread hate. Hate is not a political opinion. Hate is not worth tolerating.

I think you're getting closer to a more useful definition of "toxic" here than your original comment where you asserted "There is one clear side that is wrong".

The problem with this latter/original assertion is that you are at once acknowledging that there are "sides" and, therefore, a debate to be had but at once shutting it down as not worth having. Obviously, with this comment, it's clear you don't actually believe that, though.

> They are looking to spread hate.

Here's where I think you get closest to the root of what I think is the real origin of online toxicity. For lack of a better term, I think it's trolling for emotion.

I'm not convinced that even what you're saying, that they're looking to spread "hate", is strictly true, but I do agree that they're looking to invoke a strong emotional response, whatever that may be.

I'm pretty sure that some trolls don't even believe in the "side" they claim to support. The message doesn't even have to stand up to rational scrutiny, so it need not even have a true side.

> Hate is not a political opinion. Hate is not worth tolerating.

To the extent that such strong emotional response serves to shut down conversation, it's toxic, and I agree it's not worth tolerating.

However, I think it's dangerous to apply such broad labels, especially if it's focused on the opinions (e.g. racism) rather than the behavior (e.g. appeal to emotion).

The "they're looking to invoke a strong emotional response" echos the conversation on What Is A Troll on Meatball wiki ( http://meatballwiki.org/wiki/WhatIsaTroll ) which starts out with:

> Trolls generate emotions in others while not investing any on their own side. In real life you could not escape from the emotions of your peers — if they are angry you would be physically insecure so there is a BalancingForce, but in CyberSpace you can feel safe. Additionally electronic communication is known to amplify emotions. Those two features collaborate to make trolling so demolishing. When you analyze this phenomenon you need also take into account that very angry people have their thinking under an AngryCloud — so the troll with cool mind always has the advantage over the angry community members.

There's also a passage from Anti-Semite and Jew by Sartre. Page 13 touches on this:

> Never believe that anti‐ Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti‐Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.

Should subreddits about thug-rap be worth tolerating? Do you think those lyrics spread "hate"? Are you equally vocal about those particular subreddits?

you sure seem fond of that word "thug".

Sure? You'll find tons of /relatively/ civil and non-toxic discussions of the issue on places like CMV. Toxicity comes into play when the trust that all parties are having an honest discussion break down and everyone believes everyone else is speaking with the two sides of their mouth.

I feel like CMV is overrated.

Agreed. The dialect is structurally skewed. I commented in more detail a while ago:


>So there's no debate to be had on affirmative action, and everyone who supports it is racist and wrong?

ofc there is. But you can't deny that the people who often pop up in reddit discussions about race issues have no interest in actually debating, they just want to spread their hateful worldviews.

It has gotten better lately imo. /r/uncensorednews got banned a couple of months ago for example and that was a >100,000 subscriber sub run by an actual neo-nazi (/u/RamblinRambo3). It featured neo-nazi imagery such as the black sun and whatnot in its banner. Those people had no intentions of ever having a civic debate about affirmative action.

When people talk about racism on reddit, it's rarely about people who have informed opinions about affirmative action, but rather about people throwing around "WE WUZ KANGZ" comments and triple parentheses.

> So there's no debate to be had on affirmative action, and everyone who supports it is racist and wrong? Plenty of people I know consider it racist.

Let me guess: they're mostly white, and mostly male, and mostly of average- to below-average intelligence.

>There is one clear side that is wrong.

You're doing a really good impression of the average toxic Reddit user.

I think this is the more important part of the quote:

> Racism, bigotry, and misogyny are not political topics.

Is there gray to any of those?

Yep, the UN classifies discrimination based on country of citizenship as racism (a.k.a xenophobia). Every rich country has all kinds of social benefits reserved only for citizens, and nobody is proposing the removal of these programs despite their racist underpinnings.

>Bigotry: noun. stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own.


Every topic has many side and those topics are very current issues in politics today.

The meaning of those terms are constantly changing.

Issue don't have a right or wrong side unless you have adopted a position.

So you’re agnostic on murder, slavery, torture of children and animals, and rape? Come on, we have tons of clear rights and wrongs, and the kind of absolute moral relativism you’re peddling is a smokescreen.

Moral absolutism can make it seem like you are on the right side of the debate even when the ground is shifting.

Lets take slavery as an example. Did you know that federal and state prisioners are forced to work for 30 cents or less an hour. If they refuse they get put in solitary. The average time someone is in solitary in the California prison system is 7.5 years. That is a form of torture. Slavery still exists lawfully so does torture.

Are you aware/against those forms of slavery/torture? Is everyone who is against slavery against this form? I think there is still some room for conversations around this issue and all of the other general topics.

I mean murder can be seen as a net benefit if someone murdered hilter before he took power.

Lets take slavery as an example. Did you know that federal and state prisioners are forced to work for 30 cents or less an hour. If they refuse they get put in solitary. The average time someone is in solitary in the California prison system is 7.5 years. That is a form of torture. Slavery still exists lawfully so does torture.

Conflating legality with morality is silly.

Are you aware/against those forms of slavery/torture?

Yes, because there are some moral absolutes, which is why you retreated from a moral argument into a legal one.

On top of that, said toxic people usually start harassing other users.

So, your comment is a pretty good example why I find Reddit such a toxic place. It's filled with absolute truths, and if you disagree you're a bot, a shill. You make a rational, logical, thoughtful comment but if you disagree with the "hivemind" someone else will just dismiss you with some dumb one-liner, eg. "How much does the FSB pay you?". Nowadays for example it's Russo/Sinophobia. I'm not talking about Trump supporters either, I'm talking about accounts which seem to be from every direction of the political spectrum repeat jargons and falsehoods without previously being given some critical thought into.

While we only hear about Russia's and China's cyber ops on western news outlets, whenever I look into Reddit it feels quite the opposite. It feels like the perfect place to foment war, jingoism and xenophobia. Just look at /r/worldnews.

I think facebook is more toxic than reddit in some cases. We are just shielded from them as we don't interact with too many people on facebook

In your case it's always the side that don't agree with you that's wrong, isn't it? From my viewpoint, by holding strongly on your position, you are bigot no better that the racists fks on reddit.

This has so much bigotry.


what the hell does that even mean?

You've used that term ("thug-rap subreddits") twice here in this discussion, and I'm pretty sure you're just trying to bait, because not only do they simply not exist, but even if one did, it would be about 1/100000th the size of a toxic waste dump like The_Donald or any of the MRA swamps that plague Reddit.



You've forgotten to add that rap music is usually highly homophobic.


Sheeple gonna sheeple

Commenting like this will get you banned here. Please (re-)read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and post civilly and substantively, or not at all.

yep, you can go fuck yourself.

We've banned this account for repeatedly violating the site guidelines and ignoring our requests to stop.


eat shit and fucking die, dang.


Yeah, that's about the response I expected.

Racism, bigotry and misogyny are politics. You perfectly demonstrate my point in that you hold the political aspects above all other aspects in determining the validity of an entire persons life and contribution to society because of the ideas they express. For example, Roseanne making one tweet and ruining her whole career. Reddit doesn't force that sort of political conformity on people.

One tweet? No no... that isn’t what happened. She crapped out a hundred tweets today alone, but let’s look back.



Just a list of mad shit from her: https://www.buzzfeed.com/marcusjones/roseanne-barr-tweets-th...

Wow, what a disingenuous comment.

If you think Roseanne's sins were limited to a single tweet, you're woefully uninformed on the matter. It was the sum of all of her past transgressions, the tweet was merely the straw breaking the camel's back, surprisingly. I would have thought it was the Nazi cookie photoshoot.

The one she, a Jewish woman, did for a Jewish satire magazine?

... which makes it okay because ...?

Have you heard the phrase "know your audience"? A professional comedian should. Because if they don't, they might not produce any laughs. And if they can't do that, how are they going to get paid?

It ain’t politics; it’s a particularly aggressive form of argumentation that holds no boundaries. Even the most hateful subreddit enforces standards (no doxxing, no brigading, etc) because if they don’t, they know the Reddit admins will shut them down or force them private (invite-only).

The subject matter of the sub doesn’t matter, the toxicity is in the methods.

> Reddit works because it’s anonymous

Are you sure there? Anonymity doesn't really exist anymore on the internet for the average person. Reddit has the illusion of anonymity which gives its users a false sense of privacy so they can act the way they truly are (parallels to Westworld if you watch the show).

It would be incredibly easy for Reddit to de-anonymize its user base, the same way Facebook was trying to do with medical metadata, and sell that info (at least for the US users, given GDPR in EU now)

You can make a new user account on Reddit in 30 seconds and don't even need an email (last I checked).

Pretty easy to maintain a significant degree of anonymity by just deleting your account and making a new one.

With that said, most users are more concerned about being anonymous to their peers in conversation than they are to Reddit's administration itself, IMO.

I'm not talking about email, IP address or any other convenient mode of identification.

Think voting patterns, date/times active, submission categories, comments, writing style, punctuation ...

Facebook had a project to cross-reference user behavior to anonymized medical data. Say patient A's history says he visited a foreign country in the Mediterranean, came back with the stomach flu, was hospitalized for 3 days ... Maps to: holiday photos, dates, locations, status updates, friends commenting get well soon etc.

I hear they were pretty successful at it too! Makes you think what a government actor can do with enough data.

I think he's right. There are so many features you can use to profile and de-anonymize a user, even if you're not running the servers.

People generally don't seem to appreciate the relationship between marginal information and statistical likelihood. ~87% of Americans are identified by DoB, zip code, and gender. That was about two decades ago. The state of the art today is going to make Cambridge Analytica look like the Post Office when it gets pulled out of the shadows.

You do need an email to sign up, although since they allow a user to be 'logged in' as more than one user at a time, they may allow more than one account per email address. And they don't do email confirmation, though. Maybe that's what you're thinking of.

>You do need an email to sign up

No you don't. You can leave the email box blank and sign up with no problems.

Not anymore.

This is not true!

Just to be sure I just tried it via iOS Safari and signed up for a new account by entering a username and a password. Left the email field blank. Works like a charm.

You're incorrect. You can leave the email field blank.

I've got about a hundred accounts and none of them were created with an email address.

Now they ask for e-mail before you can sign up, but you don t have to go to your inbox to activate you accounts so basically it's the same.

It's a dark pattern. They pop up a dialog with just an email field and a [Next] button. Makes you think you have to enter something before you proceed. But you can leave it blank and move to the username/password stage.

Why is that a dark pattern? Seems the same as almost every other site, except with the relaxation of the requirement for an email

Notice all the sibling comments that insist the email is required now? It’s an understandable misread of that sign up flow. Only one field and then a Next button.

Almost no other input flow allows you to hit “next” when the only form field hasn’t been addressed yet. Why not put username, password, and email on one page instead of splitting it up the way they do? Then you can mark the two fields as required and the third as optional.

You can leave the email box blank and still sign up with only username and password with no problem.

What if you use Reddit the way I do when posting anonymously: I post on throwaway accounts and delete the accounts every few weeks. The account names aren’t saved in the posts, and the posts aren’t linked in any visible way.

I’m sure Reddit has code in the back end to track people, but afaik thanks to Reddit’s general lack of ads, there just aren’t a ton of DMPs, so there aren’t a lot of data points to correlate with.

There are several sites out there that archive reddit threads. Someone could still find the account name to a comment.

That said, using accounts with throwaway names will keep you pretty anonymous on its own.

IP, browser signature, topic browsing patterns, linguistic mannerisms. Not too hard.

Not too hard for reddit, hard enough for the average user. This means that for the purposes of having a conversation with someone else, you're basically anonymous. It's the same level of anonymity that web forums had back in the day before all user-created content started ending up on Facebook and it's progeny.

Right but I think their picture will be disjointed and incomplete. Something like 99% of all users are lurkers who never post a single comment.

I think GP meant anonymous to other users - not Reddit itself.

If you are mostly a lurker that probably works great. But I have found that the most influential/upvoted posts tend to come from established accounts with higher karma.

Just like Twitter; but most of those millions of eyeballs aren’t posting anything.

I don't care it I am not anonymous to Reddit. I care that the average person, reading my comments, doesn't immediately know who I am.

Pseudonymous then.

P.s. Facebook doesn't sell data. It sells ads, targeted using the data it holds.

Facebook effectively sells data. It simply doesn't sell raw dumps.

The distinction isn't a minor one, but in this context it doesn't much matter. Reddit is unlikely to have the kind of quality data that facebook has to sell - directly, or indirectly.

I would say there are huge privacy differences between selling data and selling the right to advertise to their private data. The latter is quite a bit more privacy secure.

(Note, the Cambridge Analytica stuff happened in 2013 when Facebook was much more open with APIs using their data, since popular demand at the time was for FB to be less of a walled garden)

Even just targeted advertising is enough. Setup a campaign landing page for each campaign and anyone that clicks the link just exposed their gender or any other criteria you set up when defining the campaign.

> Reddit is unlikely to have the kind of quality data that facebook has to sell - directly, or indirectly.

It's a different kind of data. Spez claims to know his user's "dark secrets" and that can be an ad-tech advantage for Reddit. [1]

[1] https://thenextweb.com/socialmedia/2016/05/30/reddit-knows-y...

> and relatively ad-free

The redesign that's currently in beta seems to mostly be driven by the desire to embed more ads. Instead of just one ad at the top of the page, there's new several spread throughout the feed, very similar to Twitter's promoted tweets.

The move in general is to shift from a fixed impression number when you hit a page, to a constantly increasing impression number as you scroll, with other changes made to increase scroll depth (and thus more impressions).

I'm just waiting for them to add auto-play muted videos to the feed so they can charge those higher video CPMs.

I think the uptick in visits is just people clicking "back to old reddit" on every page... why isn't there a global setting to disable this "new" reddit abomination...?

I didn't visit the site in while since the last "sub cleanse" made really obvious the direction they where steering to, today i saw it due to a google search and the new "Facebook-esque" layout made me throw up a bit in my mouth.

Yeah. And this is why Reddit's slow change to a more Facebook type setup is so risky for them right now. What the administration seems to want and what the users want are odds here, and the former seems to be on the verge of driving away the latter because of it.

It’s going to blow back on them.

The user experience is significantly worse. The entire goal is to reduce information density to cram in more ads.

Guess they didn’t get the memo that this transformation is exactly what drove users away from Facebook.

I think that the industry has not yet solved the question of how to keep a social network interesting when it becomes mass-market.

The problem is that the kind of content and discussion which appeals to everyone also appeals to noone. The biggest common denominator is small.

Networks like Reddit and Facebook are born in a niche and this niche audience is what keeps the quality of content high.

Once the niche gets bigger and bigger, the quality of the content goes down. And the network suffocates.

Small reddit communities are drama free and non toxic and also anonymous, information-dense and relatively ad-free. I think at 100K+ subreddits start breaking apart and toxic voices and groupthink take over.

> Reddit’s ability to turn a profit

Maybe our society should recognize that some platforms should be treated as utilities, impose a small tax ($5? 0.05%?) which individuals can dedicate to a platform of their choice, and keep these vital forums away from crushing forces of market?

Wikipedia does well with a periodic fundraiser. Hi Jimbo!

Could Reddit do similarly? Style itself as mostly a service and not especially profit-driven?

Hi, I'm @spez. By Creddits this week to help Reddit meet its quarterly fundraising goal! We've gamified it a little ...

In EU many governments force you to fund state TVs you never watch; instead giving portion of that to a site (or sites) of your choice could be preferable.

Technology allows high productivity and efficiency.

Ads have cognitive cost that users pay for the service. Price competition in free service means annoying users less with ads. If there is competition and innovation in social media works, it has the potential to become the lowest profit margin business sector ever existed once it matures. Wast volumes and very thin profit margins.

They've banned so many of the toxic people that Voat, Gab, phuks et. al. have pretty much become toxic cesspools of ostracized communities.

> Sure you can try to drive away the toxic users, but it turns out that those toxic users are also pretty influential in non-toxic aspects.

The problem with Reddit's toxic user base is that they're only concerned with blocking bad actors on one side of a subject. They've repeatedly turned a blind eye to the open doxxing and brigading from SRS, and the complete takeover of the politics subreddit by CTR.

Do you believe that the majority of reddit users are "toxic"? I wouldn't describe myself as a heavy user of reddit but I almost never come across "toxic" behavior. I follow sub-reddits like personal finance, VR and phillips hue lighting. There just isn't much "toxicity" in there as far as I can tell.

I think you're being a little bit disingenuous here. Not everybody only subscribes to a bunch of niche subreddits with good moderation. A lot of the larger / less strictly moderated subreddits are filled with toxicity, bots, and other nonsense.

Yeah and right now they’re trying to change more than one to fail faster.

Has Reddit tried “periodic fundraisers” like public TV and Wikipedia?


Reddit Gold used to go into funding infrastructure. Gold buyers used to be able to name servers and all.

I have always been wondering, would people choose to pay reddit instead of getting ads, like 1$ or 10$ a month?

This is effectively what Reddit Gold is. In a perfect world, Reddit would be completely funded through Gold, therefore eliminating the pressure on higher ups to increase revenue through ads or other less than ideal revenue streams.

Unfortunately, Gold has not been enough to fund the site (if the sidebar on the front page is to be believed) for a long time.

reddit gold is voluntary tho, I was wondering what if you force it like when you enter reddit it make you choose between spending x$ or accept ad, I wonder if people will still use it?

They would not.

Why would people do either of those things when ad-blockers exist?

Possibly naive question: how does reddit make money, and how's it going for them? Ads, promoted content, reddit gold... Is that it?

I knew they were purchased by Conde Nast, then spun off at some point? Are they owned by VC now, or something?

>Reddit works because it’s anonymous //

Yet I presume the majority of the drive to make users use the app is in order to deanonymise them and associate their input with a real person?

>I’m still skeptical of Reddit’s ability to turn a profit. //

The reason it fits in with a media conglomerates portfolio must be influencing and profiling, no? Such profits aren't direct, they're through things like tax regimes tailored to the overlords, political systems that serve your needs, etc.. That's the media tycoon game isn't it?

Reddit is now adding profile info and friends and such. Unfortunately.

The last thing it needed was that. Those just amplify the thundering herd problem.

Friends have been a feature for years

Better than than lose all of their sub-communities to discord.

I imagine useful-but-not-inherently-profitable stuff like this would be supported voluntarily by its userbase. And if you're as popular as Reddit, I guess there must be a couple of big patrons whose support alone is bigger than the upkeep costs.

Moderators volunteer hours of labor at least

> drive away the toxic users

I am surprised there isn't some kind of NLP based solution for that. I think labeling of slashdot-like informative/funny would be useful.

What does "toxic user" mean in this context? How do they differ from a "non-toxic" user?

Sometimes it's just people that don't participate in the echo chamber.

It's vague but real.

Maybe someone who makes the experience miserable for other users? Or is destructive / harassing / mean-spirited?

It strikes me as a term where everybody thinks they know what it means but if you drill down most people just made up their own definition and there's no agreed-upon definition.

While everybody agrees that toxic users are bad and you probably should get rid of them, many would really disagree on who the toxic users actually are.

My made-up-on-the-spot definition would be: "Everybody who hinders business interests."

May it be by hindering user growth or even causing user loss. For example making large groups of users feeling uneasy in some way. For example using bad words or posting bad ideas or even purposefully provoking users or user groups.

Or by hindering revenue streams for example by advocating ad-blockers or making the advertisers or other money sources feeling uneasy.

Or other reasons.

Surely it should be possible to run something like Reddit at a profit? Run it with like 50 people. And not necessarily in SF. I think that's doable if you're happy with where the site is, product-wise.

Just googled quickly and found a figure of 250 employees from last year.

Honestly, it should be possible to run MANY internet services at a profit if you keep your costs low and stop throwing money at every little irrelevant thing. Reddit, Medium, Twitter... all of them probably could have been profitable businesses if their founders ran them out of a normal office, with normal staff salaries (not in the hundreds of thousands of dollars), with less staff and with less money spent on office perks and what not.

Does every business need to be some huge deal with thousands of staff and huge offices and tons of perks and a staff cafe now?

The problem is not the salaries or the perks that drives the unprofitability, it's simply the investment model. If you're backed by venture capital, you're goal is to get to an exit 500x larger than the investment ($2M round; VCs don't invest unless they think they may make $1B+). That requires people to focus on growth and world-eating more than any respectable-in-the-moment profitability numbers.

Generall that's the case, but not for reddit though, right?

Well kind of...if you're in the Bay Area, you need to be able to compete for engineers with the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook etc. No perks == no employees. Why should I go work at your crappy startup when I could live the life of luxury at one of the FANGS.

I think a lot of people would be very interested in a job posting with a tagline like: "We don't have ping pong or topo chico; we have eight hour workdays".

If I saw that, saw a clear description of the thing they're building and reasoned that it provides value to someone, I'd be over the moon.

I think you'd like working in Scandinavia.

Surprise: You don't need to be in the Bay Area to build/run world class companies/products. Maybe sometimes to build, but definitely not to run.

Right; if you run the Craigslist model.

Reddit has been more interventionist with content, which means they need more people to manage the community. I would guess they have all the developers they need...

Not sure about the second one. Isn't Reddit's whole point that volunteer moderators and community founders moderate the content, not a centralised moderation team? Honestly, I'd expect them to spend less on that stuff than something like Facebook or Twitter, since the users do a decent enough job of removing the truly objectionable posts anyway.

I don't get the impression they are spending a whole lot on community management.

In a way, that's a big part of what I see as their largest problem - they are relying on the zeal of the subreddit moderators to work for free. (They should have a model which allows moderators for large subreddits to get paid. And for the subscribers to vote for moderators.)

This is why the large subreddits are so incredibly polarized in either left or right directions - the moderators are not paid to deal with things fairly, they are there spending their time working free - the only benefit they get is that they get to enforce their particular political choice onto others in their subreddit.

Look at e.g. r/politics and r/the_donald as extreme examples of what I'm talking about.

I would go so far as to say that while the moderators of most major subs may have started as volunteers, they are almost certainly on someone’s payroll now as “social influencers”.

This includes the political subreddits (actually especially the political subreddits). It’s legitimate user posts and discussions filtered by whoever has the coin to rent access to those moderators.

There's also been a few accusations of r/tesla moderators being on payroll (can be read at r/realtesla).

I know someone who is a mod for a couple major subs and he absolutely does paid placements (he has his own bot network for everything, but being a mod his shill posts don’t get deleted).

Mods don’t necessarily use their mod power itself for profit, but knowing how the sub works and what users like is very powerful. So is ignoring obvious upvote botnets because they belong to you or another mod.

The inevitable conclusion I come to:

Something like reddit2 should be run by a minimalist apolitical company.

They should work on building some kind of democracy in each sub-reddit, based on some factors (where "participation quality" is one important factor). If the users are unhappy, they should be able to call for an election, etc.

The reddit2 company should focus primarily on keeping the platform alive and on fighting bots. And on tuning the scoring model.

They should be financed in some way that doesn't depend on the content. Be it individual contributments, random, anomymized advertisments etc.

The company should try to hire apolitical engineers and managers. People who just care about solving an engineering problem.

Tildes [0] may grow to align with much of what you're looking for here, maybe not.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17103093

Not true anymore. You need an email just to sign up now.

At the time I'm posting this message, email is still not required. Just click 'Next' with an empty email value to skip that step during registration.

That's dark patterns 101, but technically it's not required.

Sneaky. Ty for this, I had no idea.

If an email is all they require, that seems almost like an intentionally low bar.

They don't even require that

>Sure you can try to drive away the toxic users, but it turns out that those toxic users are also pretty influential in non-toxic aspects

Almost as if toxicity of a person is an integral part of their nature and politically correct spaces are detrimental to the discourse.

Toxicity is detrimental by definition, so not sure what you're getting at.

Detriment is wholly subjective here. When it comes to politics or social issues, people have different views on how society "should be", and those differences are offensive and considered toxic to the other side. In that sense, everybody is toxic and the label is meaningless and unactionable.

Obviously, most people hold beliefs of some form, and those beliefs will clash with others. Bandying around "toxic" as an absolute in those situations is narrow-minded and prejudiced. Reasonable people with contributions in one neutral area and one controversial area are lumped with this same label as trolls, doxers, and inciters of violence.

Specificity of labels is very important, especially when they are tied to consequences.

Where "toxic" can certainly be used is in relation to a certain goal, like reasonable level-headed discussion, or subscription to a certain worldview; instead of as absolute. Even actions like deliberate trolling aren't considered toxic on sites like 4chan, because that's part of their accepted and promoted culture.

Is there even a definition to "toxicity"? I've just seen it used as a buzzword for "thing I don't like".

I think the point is, much like offensiveness toxicity is something that is percieved and not objectively determined. Some users and groups may be perceived to be toxic, while much of the user base may consider it positive. Two examples would be the_Donald and /r/late_stage_capitalism. Lot of people think those subreddits are toxic, but lots of users also like and participate in those subreddits.

Safe spaces tend to turn into echo chambers. By reddit banning everything, they've effectively dictated the narrative that's currently found on the site.

> Reddit works because it’s anonymous, information-dense and relatively ad-free.

Reddit is none of those now. It's not anonymous ( they track your identity and feed it to the government ). You may be "anonymous" to fellow users, but not anonymous to authorities. It isn't information dense. It's propaganda dense. Almost all the content there now is government, media, ngo, etc propaganda. As for ads, check out the videos, movies, music, etc subs when a particular movie, album, etc comes out. The frontpage will be littered with ad-like submissions ( aka ads ).

Reddit is 80% government, politics and news propaganda and 20% ads ( movies, music, etc ). I think you are confusing the reddit of 2011 with today's reddit.

> It’s been Reddit’s dilemma since the beginning: you can’t monetize a toxic user base that has total freedom.

Actually reddit could and did monetize "toxic content". How do you think reddit has been around for nearly 13 years? And once again, you are confusing reddit of 2011 to reddit of 2018. Today, reddit isn't any more "toxic" than twitter, youtube, facebook, etc. Reddit is heavily censored. Besides, on social media, you don't monetize content, you monetize eyeballs/clicks/data points.

> I’m still skeptical of Reddit’s ability to turn a profit.

Do you really think reddit is unprofitable? Let me guess, you think that youtube is not profitable right? You think these companies have been around for more than a decade because they are not "profitable"?

Their "hollywood" style accounting may make it seem like they are not profitable, but these companies are incredibly profitable. It's why youtube has a valuation over $100 billion and reddit's valuation is in the billions.

> But as a community platform it’s the best out there IMO.

Have to disagree with you there. Any garden variety forum is better than reddit. Also, reddit stopped being a community a long time ago.

I've stopped using it because it's all political nonsense or advertisements.

I disagree wholeheartedly.

> You may be "anonymous" to fellow users, but not anonymous to authorities. True, but this only matters to a very small percentage of its user base. A vast majority of people who use Reddit don't know or don't care about data collection. They only care if their friend/coworker/family can ID them from what they post.

>Reddit is 90% government, politics and new propaganda and 20% ads... The front page/top posts, maybe. 90% of the content doesn't reach the top of /r/all though. And I don't know if I consider what is popular/part of the echo chamber as an 'ad'.

>Do you really think reddit in unprofitable? Profitable or not, what's the difference? They've maintained a relatively ad free experience and don't expect you to 'pay to play'. Content isn't pay-walled. Yes they've made cosmetic changes to shift towards a more 'social-media' style experience, but the changes are not that bad and haven't drastically changed the user experience.

>Any garden variety forum is better than reddit. This is personal and can't be claimed with any objectivity. You may find that certain nice forums offer you more value, personally, but that doesn't apply to everyone.

In my experience, whatever shortcomings Reddit has are greatly outweighed by the information and entertainment I've received.

> Reddit is 80% government, politics and news propaganda and 20% ads ( movies, music, etc ).

I am a heavy Reddit user and I don't notice any of these things, except when I specifically go looking for them. Curate your subreddit list and unsubscribe from all the default subs - they are all garbage, and that isn't even Reddit's fault, it's just inevitable once they reach a certain size.

> I am a heavy Reddit user and I don't notice any of these things

You don't see politics related content on reddit daily? I used reddit since reddit was days old ( years before the digg migration ) so maybe we visited different websites.

> Curate your subreddit list and unsubscribe from all the default subs

That defeats the point of reddit doesn't it? Or what made reddit great. I never used reddit to be part of a bubble. Not only are default subs a bubble today, reddit itself is a bubble.

> and that isn't even Reddit's fault, it's just inevitable once they reach a certain size.

Actually it is reddit's fault. When they allowed and encouraged censorship, it allowed a small faction of political and news media/ngo affiliated mods to turn subreddits into their propaganda platform.

How do you avoid being in a bubble? Usually of your own creation. Whether it is curating the subreddits you see, or selecting the news sites you visit, you are only ever going to see a tiny fraction of what's going on in the world.

I skip pretty much all the political and news subreddits and stick to the focused communities that match my interest. Things like r/3dprinting, or r/omscs, etc. I find most communities are decent as long as they're not enormous. Any significant political content and I bail, I am just too tired of being reminded how horrible many people are.

> How do you avoid being in a bubble?

Simple. By exposing yourself to a variety of ideas, opinions, viewpoints.

>Whether it is curating the subreddits you see, or selecting the news sites you visit, you are only ever going to see a tiny fraction of what's going on in the world.

Hence why I never subscribed to a subreddit...

> It's not anonymous ( they track your identity and feed it to the government )

Are you referring to the missing warrant canary? That's about the time I stopped using Reddit, but I doubt they're selling data to the government. They're probably ordered to give out data due to National Security Letters.

> The frontpage will be littered with ad-like submissions ( aka ads ).

/r/hailcorporate is kinda interesting in that they like to point this out. It's not necessarily advertisers pushing their stuff, but a mix of regular users who just embrace consumerism and corporatism + ad bots. It's sometimes impossible to tell the two apart.

> Actually reddit could and did monetize "toxic content". How do you think reddit has been around for nearly 13 years?

I think OP is talking about all the now banned subs: /r/jailbait (and all the other bait subs), /r/niggers, /r/fatpeoplehate, etc. etc.

> Also, reddit stopped being a community a long time ago

I don't use Reddit anymore, except for local subs sometimes. The combination of the warranty canary and the mass bannings made me fed up. But what pissed me off the most was the CEO that edited comments in the database, and then kept his job with an apology. You should have to step down after that.

I agree though. Reddit isn't a great service. I hope we see more smaller sites based around the concept; maybe more Lobster instances for niche communities.

> Are you referring to the missing warrant canary?

That's certainly part of it. But even before then, reddit was sharing data with the authorities. Just like google removing "don't be evil" didn't mean that they weren't evil before they removed it. It just made it "official".

> I think OP is talking about all the now banned subs:

Right. And reddit was monetized while those subs were around.

> I don't use Reddit anymore, except for local subs sometimes.

The only time I check reddit is if there is a major news event, but the news and worldnews subs are now run by the news media employees, so it's all links to bbc, cnn, nytimes, etc, so even those subs are pointless now.

> Reddit is 80% government, politics and news propaganda

I don't think the list of top 50 subreddits [0] particularly supports that assertion.

[0] http://redditmetrics.com/top

> You may be "anonymous" to fellow users, but not anonymous to authorities.

reddit doesn't collect a large amount of information about users. They can give authorities the contents of your "private" messages and non-public subreddits, and your IP address. If you're making even a minimal effort to be anonymous, this will not be useful to the authorities.

On the internet of 2018 sites like Reddit/FB/YouTube/Twitter are perceived to have VALUE to users for just one simple reason - instant validation of whatever bull is flitting thro their minds.

The like/upvote/view/retweet counts never existed next to every thoughtful or thoughtless utterances prior to these sites. Just as in the real world. And just as it should have been. Everything your mom says doesn't need a popularity score next it.

The ppl who defend these sites have blindly accepted that popularity scores next to every thought/speech/action have no downside.

These days I don't even expect them to overcome that blindness which is why comments like yours will always get down voted despite the common sense in them.

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